#chesterculture – Russell Kirk: Sculpture, Mosaic and Line Work Exhibition – Telford’s Warehouse – 21st May to 21st July 2016

For the next two months, Telford’s Warehouse will be hosing an exhibition of sculpture, mosaic and ink work from the mind of the popular Chester based artist, Russell Kirk.

Russell studied combined arts, (painting and music), at Dartington College and later Crewe & Alsager College where he graduated in 1982 with a B.A (hons) Integrated Arts majoring in visual art and music performance.

After graduating he set up a studio with fellow painters in a disused factory in Crewe where he produced large oil paintings based almost exclusively on the landscape of North Wales and Cumbria – favourite hiking country.

Alongside this he set up a guitar school teaching during the evenings and playing in restaurants and bars at the weekends. It was during this time he began to develop an interest in performance and processional arts while working on residential projects with Cheshire Dance Workshop.

On moving to Chester in the early 1990’s Russell became involved in various large-scale projects and events such as arts festivals, outdoor theatre, parades and productions of devised theatre touring Europe. His activities at this time included artistic design and production, composing and performing music, co-directing and organisational and administrative work.

Russell also developed a love for mosaics and started producing his own in 1996. Since then he has carried out a number of commercial and private commissions and has built up a sizeable catalogue of mosaic work.

Russell is responsible for a number of annual festivals and parades across the North West and his workshop activities mean that he is a familiar face in many schools and colleges in Cheshire and surrounding Counties. His work can be seen in many festivals and parades across the country.

img_0820Russell’s first book – the illustrated re-telling of George and the Dragon was published in 2011 and he is currently working on two further works due for publication in 2014.

Although he still produces his own work for exhibition and private collections it is the large festive events that are his first love. This is epitomised by the Chester Midsummer Watch Parade where the elements of visual arts, music and performance all come together making it one of the most enjoyable and spectacular community events in the country.

You can see more of Russell’s work at www.russellkirk.co.uk

Russell Kirk Exhibition
Telford’s Warehouse
21st May to 21st July 2016 

#chesterculture – What’s he building in there? New photos and an update on Chester’s new Cultural Centre, Storyhouse.

New photos of Storyhouse, Chester’s brand new cultural centre, taken by Mark Carline show the latest developments behind the hoardings of the country’s largest regional arts project currently under construction.

It is week 64 of the build, from the photographs viewers can see the auditorium where nearly all of the intricate high level electrical and pipework is complete to allow the scaffolding to be shortly removed. It will reveal a unique theatre space that transforms from an 800 seat proscenium arch design to a 500 seat, more intimate thrust.

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The construction of the circle level seating structure is progressing and works to the stalls and upper circle will start shortly.

The cinema enclosure has been formed and the fit out internally has commenced. Films of all types will be screened inside the boutique space, that will show up to 4 films a day.

Externally the copper cladding works are progressing.

Inside the former Odeon building – set to be library spaces, complete with ‘wet room’ for children to play in and study spaces – works are ‘well advanced’ with decoration, flooring and shelving left to complete.

Works are progressing well to the main Odeon space where it is easy to see the new cinema and bar areas taking shape. Externally, the installation of the cast glass is now complete to the north and west elevations and will start shortly on the south.

When the building opens Storyhouse will combine theatre, library, cinema and restaurant spaces.

To find out more visit storyhouse.com

#chesterculture – John Piper’s screen print Façade at Grosvenor Museum until 26th June 2016

A dramatic screenprint by John Piper, inspired by one of the most fascinating houses in Cheshire, has gone on display at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum.
John Piper (1903-92) was a painter of architecture, landscape and abstract compositions, a designer for the theatre and of stained-glass windows, and a writer on the arts. In the 1940s and ’50s he was one of the best known and most highly regarded painters in England. Piper began his career as a landscape painter, then experimented with abstraction in the 1930s before returning to representational painting, particularly architectural subjects. He is one of the few artists whose reputation is based on the interpretation of architecture, capturing the essence of a building’s character in line and paint to evoke feeling and emotion.

John Piper had been making prints since the 1920s, but from the 1960s printmaking became an increasingly significant aspect of his work. Working with the screenprinter Chris Prater at Kelpra Studio, Piper became fascinated by the wide range of techniques available to him. ‘Façade’ was screenprinted at Kelpra in 1987, just five years before Piper’s death.
facade , john piper, grosvenor museum

John Piper’s 1987 screenprint ‘Façade’ is based on the curtain which he designed for a 1942 performance of ‘Façade – An Entertainment’, which comprises poems by Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) recited over an instrumental accompaniment by William Walton (1902-83). The poems were recited behind the curtain using a megaphone through the central mask. Alongside the mask is the suggestion of a Gothic house, folly, garden and lake, together with a dragonfly, butterfly and the moon.

The façade in Piper’s design was inspired by the entrance front of Eaton Hall in William Porden’s Regency Gothic incarnation. Eaton came into the possession of the Grosvenor family in the 1440s, and the first house on the present site was built in 1675-82. The house was transformed in 1804-14 by William Porden for the 2nd Earl Grosvenor, and in 1823-5 wings were added by Benjamin Gummow. The result was a spectacular Gothic mansion with spiky buttresses, pinnacles, battlements and turrets. The house was remodelled in 1846-51 by William Burn, and in 1869-83 Alfred Waterhouse transformed it into a Wagnerian palace for the 1st Duke of Westminster. This was demolished in 1961-3, leaving only the chapel and stables. A modern house was built in 1971-3, which in turn was transformed in 1989-91 for the present Duke.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Health and Wellbeing, said:  “The print was purchased with funds from the Robert Armstrong Bequest through the Grosvenor Museum Society and with help from the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund: we are enormously grateful for their generous support.”    

Maurice Rider, Chairman of the Grosvenor Museum Society, said: “Dramatic, romantic and evocative, ‘Façade’ is a highly characteristic example of John Piper’s art. Inspired by Eaton Hall, one of the most magnificent of Gothic Revival houses, it makes a fascinating addition to the museum’s fine collection of modern prints. I am delighted that the Grosvenor Museum Society has been able to help with this important acquisition. The society supports the museum across a range of activities, funding acquisitions for the collection, conservation and publications, education and events. The Society is totally committed to supporting the Grosvenor Museum and its mission.”

‘Inspired by Gothic: Ruins, Romance, Revival’

Runs until 26 June 2016

The Grosvenor Museum 

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.30am to5pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm

Admission free, donations welcome

#chesterculture – The Gathering 2016 – Sunday 1st May 2016

Spring is coming and music is in the air and thoughts turn to the coming festival season!

The Gathering 2016 is Chester’s very own music and arts festival here found every May Day bank holiday weekend at Alexander’s: Amazing bands and acoustic performers, DJ’s, street artists, stalls and poets: all the stuff you would find at a festival but in the middle of Chester, so don’t miss it!

“The Gathering has simply become one of the best small independent festivals in the northwest and the Gathering 2016 is going to be everything you would expect from a festival but right here in the middle of Chester!” – Northern Shout

Main Stage Line Up:

Broken 3 Ways
Green Room
The Stops
The Instinctive
Dead Pixels
Kindest of Thieves
Jonathan Coley
Ollie Gosling

12973314_10154911626837715_6914465656251199534_oat The Gathering 

Indoor Acoustic Stage
12.00 – Flipside DJ’s
2.00 – Ginger Poetry, Flash Fiction & Dance –
Cal Buckley / Edward Little / Chris Mapp / Rhys Jones / Joshua Cialis
David Subacchii / Nala Rollo / Lucy Jones / Tom Sraz / Emma Apple
4.00 – Peter Douglas
4.30 – Ross Buckley
5.00 – Joseph Leo
5.30 – Bean
6.00 – Special Guest
6.30 – Texas Banjo Massacre


Flipside DJ’s in the The Pop-Up Club
7.00 – Ole Smokey
8.00 – Chris Sutton
9.00 – Daniel Schott
10.00 – Eddie Shields

The Draw Inn at The Gathering: (Street artists and Painting Wall)



Plus Stalls, BBQ, outdoor bar and much, much more.

The Gathering
Sunday 1st May 2016
Midday Onwards
Pay on the door
 18+ – £6.00, 17 to 13yrs – £4.50, 12 to 8yrs – £2.50, Under 7 years free
2 adults and 2 people under 18: £15



#chesterculture – Golgotha: a David Mach installation at Chester Cathedral

And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.…

David Mach’s gigantic sculpture Golgotha is currently installed in Chester Cathedral until 1st May 2016. First debuted in David’s 2011 “Previous Light” exhibition, which opened in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible; this is the first time that it has been exhibited in a sacred space.

David Mach is one of Britain’s leading sculptors and one of the most important names in international contemporary art. Born in March 1956 in Methil, Fife, Scotland, David Mach joined the Royal College of Art in 1979, experimenting with the ideas and techniques which he continues to develop today.

Nominated for the Turner Prize in 1988, he was elected Member of the Royal Academy of Art in 1998. He is known for his impressive installations including, Temple at Tyre in Edinburgh, Polaris, a submarine made with hundreds of tyres and Here to Stay, a magazine installation in Glasgow to name but a few. Mach also made his mark with public sculptures such as Big Heids on the M8, Out of Order in Kinston Upon Tyne, made of collapsed telephone boxes, and the UK’s Portrait of a Nation, an epic collage commissioned for the Millennium Dome.

Throughout his career Mach has exhibited around the world. He continues to work to a furious schedule developing his artistic style based on assemblage of mass produced found objects … magazines, teddy bears, car tyres, matches, coat hangers, postcards, collage, pins – just about anything.

Such is the scale of the Golgotha installation that a specialist team took almost a full week to delicately manoeuvre the enormous pieces into place – as shown in this timelapse video when the sculpture was previously exhibited in Edinburgh.


If you’ve any spare pocket money, the sculpture is available for sale at a cost of £1,200,000.

Rumour has it, Chester Cathedral are planning to hold more contemporary art shows including one next year with pieces from the likes of Damien Hurst.

Could we possibly see the infamous Daka/Jaka scrawl of graffiti around Chester replaced with works by Lu$h, Wasted Rita and Banksy?

Only time will tell but we certainly hope so.

Golgotha – a David Mach sculpture
South Transpect, Chester Cathedral
Exhibiting until 1st May 2016
Free Admission

#ChesterCulture – Lord Mayor of Chester’s St George’s Day Celebrations and Family Workshops – 17th and 23rd April 2016

All you good folk of Chester Town
Come close and listen well
I have a tale of blood and gore
And bravery to tell
Of shiny knights with pointy swords
Of damsels fair and sweet
Of Kings of old with lots of gold
And very smelly feet

Saint George needs you to help fight the Deadly Dragon and save the Princess!

On Sunday 17th April 2016, Chester’s artist and pirate king in residence – Russell Kirk -invites you for a rare opportunity to join him in his workshop to make swords, shields, flags, banners and tabards and then join in on Saturday 23rd April with The True Account of Brave Saint George and  The Frightful Dragon. chsic230414george-11

Now in it’s 6th year Chester’s famous retelling of this timeless legend returns for another mediaeval romp through the City. Accompanied by minstrels, knights and fools this humorous slapstick extravaganza is fast becoming one of the highlights of the year. So ‘Cry God for Harry, England and St George’ polish up your shields, dust down your lance and come join the fun.

Workshops are free and suitable for the whole family but children should be aged seven years or over. Due to the nature of dragons occasionally eating unattended children, all children must be accompanied by an adult. All participants must be available to take part on 23rd April.

Participants for each workshop are limited to just ten people, adults and children combined. Booking is required and is recommended to be done ASAP as Russell’s workshops are always very popular. The 10am to midday workshop is already full and very few places are remaining for the afternoon workshop, so hurry!  Click here for a booking form.

There will be pointy swords, shouting, falling over, bloodshed and DRAGONS!

Lord Mayor of Chester’s St George’s Day Celebrations:
The True Account of Brave Saint George and  The Frightful Dragongeorgedragon
Town Hall Square, Chester
Saturday 23rd April 2016

Family Workshops
Midsummer Watch Workshop
Forum Studio Theatre
Sunday 17th April 2016
10am to midday and 1pm to 3pm.
Edit: Please note that places for the family workshops are now full.

#chesterculture – Anne Lever: The Poetic Landscape – 23rd April to 17th July 2016

An exhibition of beautiful paintings by Anne Lever and poems by Michael Fox opens shortly at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum. ‘Anne Lever: The Poetic Landscape’ will run from 23rd April to 17th July 2016.

Anne Lever left her practice as a lawyer in London to live and paint in rural Cheshire. She studied with Robin Child at his Art Research Centre and is a member of the Rosvik Collective, a group of artists interested in landscape art. Inspired by her love and knowledge of the British landscape and its history, her work is ordered by geometry and infused with feeling for the spirit of place.

Anne Lever: The Poetic LandscapeWorking in the imaginative Neo-Romantic tradition, her art is influenced by the French master Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), the American painter Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) and the British artist Keith Vaughan (1912-1977). Exhibiting widely and with a growing following, her work is in many private collections.

Anne Lever said: “In all my painting I seek to transmit something of what I feel when a fleeting glimpse of something in the landscape stops me in my tracks. I go out in all weathers. Something catches my attention. I try to capture that sensation in my work. Not by recording reality but by finding an image that reflects my experience. Sometimes this just breathes itself onto the surface of the board; sometimes it is a monumental struggle; and all honouring the rectangle, on a flat surface and using colour. I have a passion for paint and am compelled to push through boundaries in order to resolve things which I do not fully comprehend. The result is always a surprise and leads on to further discovery.”


Anne Lever: The Poetic LandscapeEach painting in the exhibition has inspired a poem by Michael Fox. He was the first Literary Manager of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, before becoming a BBC drama producer. Subsequently he set up his own independent media company before co-founding and directing the Commonwealth Film Festival. Now an Anglican priest, he combines writing with doctoral research into drama and theology.

Michael Fox said: “Anne’s paintings are powerful visual expressions which need no explanation, but since first encountering her work I have admired it for its poetic quality, for its dash and verve and sense of creating a vivid experience there in the moment. I found myself wanting to respond by chasing down the imaginative places to which the work takes me and by finding a language for the deep resonances the combinations of colour and structure evoke in me.”

The programme of accompanying events includes:
Monday 25 April – ‘5000 years of land-use in upper Glen Almond, Perthshire’ lecture by Professor Richard Oram
Wednesday 18th May – ‘Commanding Views: A History of Landscape Art’ lecture by Adrian Sumner
Friday 3rd June – Tissue Paper Landscapes family activity
Tuesday 12th July – Exhibition Tour with Anne Lever

Anne Lever: The Poetic Landscape
The Grosvenor Museum
23rd April to 17th July 2016
Open Monday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm
Admission is free but donations are welcomed.  

#ChesterCulture – Grosvenor Museum and the son of the 1st Marquess of Crewe

An enchanting portrait of the three-year-old son of the 1st Marquess of Crewe, painted in 1914 by one of the most celebrated portrait painters of the day, has gone on display at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum.

Maurice Rider, Chairman of the Grosvenor Museum Society, said: “Philip de László’s portrait of Lord Madeley is a very fine and highly accessible work of art, and I believe it will give our visitors enormous pleasure. I am delighted that the Grosvenor Museum Society has been able to help with this important acquisition. The society provides vital support for the museum across a range of activities, funding acquisitions for the collection, conservation and publications, education and events. The Society is passionately committed to supporting the Grosvenor Museum and its mission.”

Born in 1911. Known to his family as Jack, his full name was Richard George Archibald John Lucian Hungerford Crewe-Milnes, and his courtesy title was Earl of Madeley.
He was the only son of Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe and his second wife Lady Margaret Primrose, daughter of former Prime Minister the 5th Earl of Rosebery.

Lord Crewe was a distinguished Liberal statesman and during his son’s lifetime was Leader of the House of Lords and Secretary of State for India.  Lord Madeley was heir to the great estate at Crewe Hall, one of Cheshire’s grandest country houses, and grew up there. Tragically, he died in 1922, aged eleven, of measles, mastoiditis and meningitis. He was buried in the churchyard at Barthomley, where he was subsequently joined by his parents.

His portrait was painted by Philip de László (1869-1937). Born in Budapest, de László settled in London in 1907 and for the next thirty years was one of the most celebrated portrait painters in Europe. Cosmopolitan, international in outlook and a master of high style and painterly panache, his bravura portraiture in the grand manner was the last great flowering of a style stretching back two centuries to Sir Anthony van Dyck. De László was renowned for his speed and directness, for his ability to capture likenesses and convey character, and for his flowing brushwork and scintillating effects of light and colour that brought his subjects vividly to life.

Philip de László never sketched his sitter’s faces beforehand but simply took up his brush and started the picture. His technique naturally lent itself to the portrait sketch, of which he was an absolute master. He would rapidly complete the face and head, and then deliberately leave the rest of the canvas blank, giving these portraits a remarkable freshness and spontaneity.

De László was often asked to paint children, and his fluid and rapid technique allowed him to capture their animation and inquisitive innocence. His portrait of Lord Madeley perfectly exemplifies these great skills.

The Grosvenor Museum
Monday – Saturday 10.30-5 and Sunday 1-4
Admission free, donations welcomed

#chesterculture – Carriage Shed Family Fun Day

Put off by the rain this morning but still like the idea of getting out with the the family today?


Then why not head through the archway between the station and The Queen’s Hotel to Chester’s new public realm, Carriage Shed for their family fun day today.

img_0466The venue housed beneath a spectacular glass roof and the stunning original brick work of the original actual Carriage Shed will protect you from the elements whilst still getting you some fresh air.

Local artist Cherry Chung, who is currently exhibiting their ‘A Passage Through Time’ sculptures at Carriage Shed, will be hosting 2 free willow weaving workshops for both children and adults alike.

Where else are you going to get an opportunity to do something like that for free?!? (We only know of relatively rare workshops which would cost you around the £50+ mark)

As well as this the beautiful space will feature street food stalls from local traders including Woody’s Pizza, What’s Your Beef?, Cheshire Ice Cream and  Coffee Vintage Co.


Carriage Shed Family Fun Day
11am – 5pm
Saturday 2nd April 2016
Free entry

#ChesterCulture – Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School – All Tied Up

What a life drawing class would be like if they held them at Torture Garden… Erotic life drawing comes to Chester!


You know what its like…

you get tied up…

hanging around by your bootstraps…

no lead in your  pencil…

no time to draw!

Well, strap in as Madame Ex from Dr. Sketchy’s has lovingly put together a night of life drawing at Telford’s Warehouse on Tuesday 29th March, where sexy young things will be tied down into positions that might make your eyes pop out!

The night’s theme is centered around bondage with a full size sex sling complete with robust changes and a cage in which to house unruly models who aren’t doing what they’reUntitled told!

These have been donated for the evening by the online kink shop – The Kinksters.

Models will pose for a series of drawings in which you will be timed during which to try and get the likeness down on paper!

As with every Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event – expect performances, cheeky poses, plenty of sketching challenges, ear popping music, prizes and all within a good few feet of the bar!

img_0439At Sketchy’s they LOVE it when you dress up to match their themes too and we very much encourage you to do so if attending.

Now, you don’t have to be a superstar artist to enroll in a class ~ its truly open to all and the perfect night out for folks who are ‘I can’t draw-ers’, the ‘not surers’ and ‘cult explorers’.

It is art that doesn’t take itself too seriously…. to make seriously good art. The kind of class that embraces the “you are where you are” philosophy and just enjoy the ride… the scenery is swell. 😉

An Art School like no other ~ no previous drawing skills needed, it’s not about being an amazing artist, it’s about having a go. So, don’t be shy and put pencil to paper, move it around and see what happens – you might be surprised!

As always, you don’t need to bring a thing, paper and pencils are provided.

Sketchy’s politely request that if you prefer to bring your own materials, please make sure wet/messy items aren’t any more than a neat watercolour set.

View the event on Facebook

Your local Dr Sketchy’s on Twitter

Facebook page.

Telford’s Warehouse, Chester 

Tuesday 28th March 2016 


Tickets are priced £10.00 from here or becomeome a V.I.P. Member and get six Sketchy’s for the price of five plus one free ticket for a friend to attend any of the events here.

Over 18s only.

[editor’s note: Since going to ‘press’ one of The Kinksters team has been hospitalised with pneumonia and they will no longer be in attendance.

Despite this Dr Sketchy’s will still be happening as the show must go on. 😊. 

All of us here at Chester Culture wish Dave from The Kinksters a quick recovery.]